I’m disappointed. Make that damn disappointed. What semi-intelligent, fair-minded person wouldn’t be?
It seems to me that in observing the precise letter of the law and drilling only into possible proof of an actual, real-deal conspiracy to undermine the 2016 election by colluding with Russian operatives, Robert Mueller has seemingly sidestepped the basic overall, which is that President Trump is a malignant narcissist, an amoral sociopath and the head of a New York crime family, and that he doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything other than his own empowerment and/or his mushroom dick being sucked. And that before and after 1.20.17 he’s acted this way to the detriment of the country and that portion of the population (i.e., a two-thirds majority) that respects the law and various concepts of human decency.
Michael, a N.Y. Times commenter, posted a few minutes ago: “I’m not surprised absent a written directive from Trump, a recorded phone call, or someone close to the president willing to tell the truth under oath, that Mueller could not prove obstruction of justice or criminal conspiracy inside the campaign.
“However, as Barr and Mueller state, this does not exonerate him. There is too much circumstantial and incriminating evidence surrounding the president’s firing of Comey, the many meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, to say ‘no collusion, no obstruction.’
“It was a huge mistake not to interview Trump under oath. I believe after the full report is issued, Congress needs to continue its oversight role that has only just barely begun. Important facts are waiting to be uncovered.
“This isn’t about optics — it’s about determining the integrity and/or duplicity of the man holding the highest office in the land.”
Laura, another Times commenter: “I’m just shocked. There’s no other word for it. As an avid follower of this whole sprawling Russia story over the last 2 years, I just don’t see how this is possible.
“There is just so much wrongdoing is plain sight — how can this be the outcome?
What about the Trump Tower meeting? And Kushner wanting to establish a back channel to Russia so US intelligence couldn’t listen to their conversations? And Trump trying to fire Sessions for not recusing himself? And the dozens of other examples of things just as corrupt, suspicious, and possibly illegal??
“Is Barr covering up for Trump? I don’t really think that, but it’s sort of the best idea I can come up with at the moment of why this is happening.
Hollywood Elsewhere offers sorrow and condolences to the friends, fans and colleagues of the great Larry Cohen, who died last night at age 77.
I first heard that Larry’s health was declining about three years ago, maybe four. I felt badly but when your number’s up, that’s it. All hail one of the nerviest screenwriters and greatest indie lowball exploitation filmmakers of the late 20th Century.
All aspiring Cohen-heads who haven’t yet seen Steve Mitchell‘s King Cohen need to do so right away.
I’m one of many critics and journalists who had a kind of chummy party-schmooze friend-o thing going with Cohen all through the ’80s, ’90s, aughts and teens…call it 35 years. Larry was on the screening-and-after-party circuit, and every time I ran into him it was always Larry and Laurene Landon, whom he’d had cast and directed in Full Moon High, I, the Jury and The Stuff. Larry and Laurene, Larry and Laurene, Larry and Laurene…years on end.
I called Laurene a couple of hours ago, looking to offer condolences. Her message box was at capacity.
I first met Cohen back in ’81, when I did a Film Journal article about how he’d been fired as director of I, The Jury, which starred Armand Assante. Written by Cohen, pic was a Manhattan-based adaptation of the famous Mickey Spillane novel. The story went that Cohen had openly questioned whether the producers (including Robert Solo) had the dough to finish the film; they apparently canned him out of anger and revenge.
A few weeks later Cohen was back at work on Q: The Winged Serpent, which turned out to be one of his loosest and most amusing…what, genre satires?
I became an arms-length admirer of Cohen in the mid ’70s. I didn’t get him at first. My first impression was that he was making low-budget exploitation schlock, It’s Alive (’74) and God Told Me To (’76) being my first two samplings. Clever stuff but not what anyone would call “serious.”
I finally got him after seeing Q, The Winged Serpent. It suddenly hit me that Cohen might be making dry exploitation film satires — that he might be playing it straight for the sake of his investors but was also “in on the joke.” Or something like that. Michael Moriarty descending into fits of giddy giggling as the serpent eats one of the bad guys….”Eat ‘um, eat’ um, eat ‘um!”.
Posted less than a year ago — 6.6.18:
Last night I tried to catch a 7 pm all-media screening of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom (Universal, 6.22) at the AMC Century City, but I almost didn’t make it. It happened in theatre #2, where two previous screenings had occured at 10 am and 3 pm. I arrived around…oh, 6:50 pm but all the seats seemed to be taken. I asked a Universal staffer if I should leave and she said, “No, no…we’ll figure it out.” Things didn’t look at all hopeful.
On top of which the crowd looked kind of mongrelish to me — overweight, T-shirts, jeans and sweat pants. There were a lot of kids there, and they all seemed to be wolfing down popcorn, candy and super-size soft drinks. A typical mall mob, the kind you’d see at Magic Mountain or Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm. A thought went through me — “Do I want to sit with these awful-looking people? I don’t see any of my critic friends here. This is not my kind of scene.”
I shook myself out of that mindset, manned up and decided to do my job, even without a seat. After a while I walked up the left-side aisle and sat down on the steps.
Ten seconds later a nice 30ish woman said, “We have a seat here.” It was five or six in from the aisle. “Oh…thank you so much!,” I said. I shuffled my way in and sat down, and right away felt a twinge of concern. On my right was a 20something woman of no particular distinction, but to my left…good God…was a Jabba-sized Latina who was sitting with a similar-sized friend. And Jabba #1 was eating, eating and eating. The movie began and she kept chowing down like someone who hadn’t eaten in days.
Her first course was some kind of chicken salad, tomato and cucumber dish inside a deep plastic container. Then came the second course — a butter-soaked tub of popcorn and a big slurpy drink. Then she opened up a bag of Doritos.
I didn’t say a word. I didn’t give her the HE stink-eye. I just sat there like a sphinx and tried to concentrate on the film. But every now and then I snuck a peek.
I couldn’t ignore the fact that Jabba #1’s reactions were extremely coarse and downmarket. I was reminded of those close-ups of Collisseum cheap-seat serfs watching Christians get eaten in Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Sign of the Cross. Every time a person got eaten by a dinosaur, Jabba #1 went “Oooh, hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” Movies like Fallen Kingdom are obviously made with this kind of person in mind. And she really loved the huge alligator-like dino that leapt out of the sea to eat a squealing 20something guy who was trying to climb into a hovering helicopter — “Eeeeee-hee-hah-hah!” Anything and everything that happened of a stupid or low-rent or pandering nature, Jabba #1 was in movie heaven.
Yes, I focused on the film and took mental notes all through it, but I couldn’t completely divorce myself from the Jabba #1 factor. I mostly pushed it aside but I kept twitching when she laughed. I’ve said this dozens of times over the years, but hell is truly other people.
“The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui,” posted on 11.28.16: “What’s the difference between Donald Trump and President Mark Hollenbach in Fletcher Knebel‘s “Night of Camp David,” a 1965 thriller about a first-term Senator, Jim MacVeagh, who comes to believe that Hollenbach has mentally gone around the bend and needs to somehow be relieved of his duties? They seem similar to me.
Six months ago The New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik wrote that “the American Republic stands threatened by the first overtly anti-democratic leader of a large party in its modern history — an authoritarian with no grasp of history, no impulse control, and no apparent barriers on his will to power.”
“And he’s not wrong,” I wrote on 5.31. “And the bubbas don’t care. They feel they’ve been fucked so badly that all bets are off. They’re determined to shoot the place up before dying.”
A non-pro wrote the following on Friday night: “FIRST MASTERPIECE OF 2019!! COP FILM ON THE LEVEL OF HEAT!!! where do I start?! WHY WASN’T THIS FILM RELEASED WIDE IN THEATERS?!! PERFECT SCREENPLAY. HIGHLY ENGAGED THE WHOLE FILM. EVERY SCENE AMAZING! I WAS SWEATING THE LAST HOUR OF THE FILM FROM SUSPENSE! WATCH THIS FILM ASAP! WORTH EVERY PENNY, TRUE CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE! I AM NOW OBSESSED WITH THIS WRITER/DIRECTOR!”
Two and a half hours of sitting-up “sleep” on Saturday morning’s LAX-to-JFK flight, which left around midnight and arrived just after 8 am. Everyone had to walk a mile and a half to get to the baggage carousels. Alas, my suitcase was missing. The Delta guys knew it was somewhere in the terminal but alas, they knew not where. I filled out the forms and took the Air Train to Howard Beach, and then waited over 20 minutes for the miserable Manhattan-bound A train to arrive. The NYC subway system is pathetic — the worst anywhere.
I didn’t get to Grand Central until 11:15 am. I was so whipped from the flight that I slumped over and crashed on them NYC-to-Westport train. Good friend Jody scooped me up, drove to the Southport automotive garage where the Yamaha Majesty and the Nissan Maxima beater have been sitting all winter. In 38-degree weather I drove the Yamaha back to Wilton — delightful icy wind cutting into my cheekbones.
I crashed on Jody’s living room couch, and did so, mind, while sitting up with a remote in my hand. Jody drove me back to Southport to pick up the Nissan. Movers are arriving Monday morning to take stuff back to Los Angeles (Yamaha, big TV, Blurays, clothing, shoes, framed art) so I drove to a local mall to buy cardboard shipping boxes, bubble wrap and packing tape. Again I crashed on the couch. Woke up, had some dinner, watched some TV.
The missing suitcase was finally delivered to Jody’s home by a Delta subcontractor at 12:10 am. I had filed a couple of stories this evening but I need to wake up early tomorrow. Face facts — today was a wash.
I’ve always felt that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (’89) is the most satisfying of the four Indys. Because it’s the funniest and most serial-like (a series of amusing, thrilling, well-choreographed skits that deliver on their own terms and don’t rely on any kind of feature-length narrative cohesion). It’s also the most nimble and assured effort within the realm. Director Steven Spielberg seems more relaxed with the comedic-romp aspects here than he was with the other three (Raiders, Temple of Doom, Crystal Skull).
Crusade is the only one of the four that I own on Bluray. That means something.
From “In Praise of Jason Clarke, Hollywood’s Go-to Cuckold,” posted by Vulture‘s Nate Jones on 3.21.19: “Every decade gets the Ralph Bellamy it deserves. In the ’90s, snarky Greg Kinnear habitually lost the girl to Hanksian nice guys. In the aughts, clean-cut James Marsden found himself overshadowed by sensitive brooders like Ryan Gosling and Wolverine.
“Recently, a new face of romantic failure has emerged: Australian actor Jason Clarke, who’s managed to carve out a healthy sideline playing some of the most disappointing husbands in contemporary cinema. Clarke’s presence is almost a walking spoiler alert at this point: If our heroine is married to him in the first act, by the end of the third you can almost guarantee that she’ll wind up having sex with another man.”
From “Stop Casting Clarke As Glum and Dismissable Types“, posted on 11.27.18: “I’ve met Jason Clarke socially two or three times, and there’s no correlation between his dinner table persona — loose, casual, funny, kind-hearted — and the glum, dismissable guys he’s always being hired to play in films.
“Clarke has had four interesting roles over the last decade — John ‘Red’ Hamilton in Public Enemies, the CIA torturer guy in Zero Dark Thirty, Ted Kennedy in Chappaquiddick and “Malcom” in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Otherwise he’s always getting cast as cuckolds (in Mudbound, The Great Gatsby, All I See Is You, The Aftermath) or guys who end up dead (First Man, Everest) or as villains.
“The real-life Clarke is bathed in charm and alpha vibes, but put him before a movie camera and he turns into a downhearted gloomhead who’s always coping with the shitty end of the stick. Not right, unfair, reboot required.”
Until this evening and after a lifetime of movie worship, I’d somehow overlooked the fact that Bellamy’s performance as “Oklahoma” Dan Leeson in The Awful Truth (’37) resulted in a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Three years later Bellamy played almost the exact same character in His Girl Friday. And both times opposite Cary Grant.
After this one-two punch Bellamy was typecast for years as a slow-witted bumpkin and amiable dolt. He finally overcame this when he played FDR in Sunrise at Campobello (on stage in ’58, and in the ’60 film version).
I’m sitting in a peon-class seat (42C, way in the back) on a Delta red-eye. Midnight departure, arriving at JFK a little after 8 am. If you buy a Delta cheap seat you have to be down with being politely humiliated with a smile. It’s like riding on a chicken bus from Belize City to Playa del Carmen. You just have to adopt a Zen attitude and accept the bargain-basement reality of what you’ve paid for and who you are in the eyes of Delta employees. I don’t expect to “enjoy” the flight — I just want to get through it. In the words of Sterling Hayden‘s psychotic Air Force general In Dr. Strangelove, “I think I can.”
Once in a blue moon Hollywood Elsewhere will post a portion of an Armond White review, most often because I agree with the opinion. White is a big fan of Craig Zahler‘s Dragged Across Concrete (Summit, 3.22). Here’s a portion of his National Review assessment:
“At last, we have an American filmmaker who has experienced Tarantino and got past it. Zahler’s surprisingly felt art is not predicated on movie violence, even though genre violence is his métier. Despite Zahler’s heightened form of crime fantasy, Dragged Across Concrete presents a strangely naturalistic worldview. Instead of imagining how heartless — or ‘cool’ — mankind can be, Zahler looks for hidden virtues in each situation, no matter how bizarre.
“Most Hollywood movies — post-Tarantino — distract us from viewing American life as a unique experience. Zahler gravitates toward the violent and the outré as comic aspects of American greed and lust.
“But he doesn’t stop there, as Tarantino does. Zahler’s characters are full of yearning (uncorrupted desire and love). That explains the plot digression about an anxious new mother (Jennifer Carpenter) reentering the workforce. Her fate triggers the heroic rescue action that will determine each man’s familial resolve.”
There’s a reason why Dragged Across Concrete has a 76% Rotten Tomatoes rating. The reason is too many p.c. pearl-clutcher critics, all of them complaining that it’s too much of a rightwing fantasy or that it’s too insensitive or too brutal, that it doesn’t move fast enough. Basically reviewing where it seems to be coming from politically above other aspects.